LAST Wednesday saw the fourth annual meeting of Ulverston BID which gave me, as chair, the opportunity to look over the successes Ulverston BID has achieved since its inception in 2015.

I started by saying the aim of Ulverston BID is to engage the whole community in a mission to work with the statutory authorities, businesses large and small, and the public sector to become the best Ulverston can be.

I then reported to the levy payers on how the BID has used their money to achieve their core values to make Ulverston 'Attractive, Accessible, Alive and Altogether'.

Attractive: By working collaboratively with Ulverston in Bloom, BID aims to make the town centre and outlying parts of the town zing with colour – this year 100 new hanging baskets will be installed throughout the town centre, historic sites such as the Pound at Mill Dam will be tidied and brought back to life, schools and communities will be encouraged to enliven the places where they live by planting in recycled containers, such as old tyres and Wellington boots. And finally, building on the success of last year, Ulverston BID will be entering Ulverston in the Cumbria in Bloom Competition hoping to bring us yet more kudos and acclaim.

Having a beautiful, well-cared for town is not only a glory for the locals to enjoy, it encourages tourists and sends a message to prospective investors in the town by promoting it as an attractive environment in which to set up businesses.

Accessible doesn’t only mean making it easy to get into or around the town - it also means making services and information easily available to everyone, everywhere.

The recent launch of Free Town WiFi does just that. Every visitor to the town who takes advantage of the WiFi will be connected to Choose Ulverston, the official information website paid for by BID and be notified of up and coming Ulverston events and festivals through social media.

The BID’s second biggest initiative this year was also aimed at making the town more accessible by compiling, publishing and distributing 12,400 copies of its 'Traders Booklet'. This was delivered to every household in the Ulverston postal district, ensuring everyone has access to the names and contacts of businesses and services available to them locally.

Ulverston is a thriving festival town and as such certainly comes 'Alive' with colour, music, laughter and fun from May to December. BID receives numerous applications for grants towards festivals and in the past year has supported Retro Rendezvous, Another Fine Fest and Printfest.

This year we also responded to a request from the organisers of the Ulverston Dickensian Festival, who wanted to celebrate their 20th anniversary with a Light Show. BID part funded the project which saw historic images of the town projected on the sides of buildings for several weeks in the run up to Christmas.

'Altogether' is a more difficult category to define but it is in fact BID’s reason for existing.

Collaborative and partnership working is the only way to get things done and by engaging with the statutory authorities, businesses large and small, and the community BID has achieved a great deal towards making Ulverston a great place to live, work and visit.

However Jan was keen to stress that BID does NOT and never will take over council responsibilities explaining that BID works alongside Ulverston Town Council in partnership to enhance the environment we all live within. The Town Council budget is already stretched and without the collaboration with BID they may possibly have to choose between reductions in essential services or less vital budget items such as the provision of Christmas Lights or illumination of the monument on Hoad. This is not a reasonable thing to ask of the rate payers, so, while the Christmas lights and floodlights on Hoad monument do not necessarily contribute to our physical wellbeing or the safety of the town or impact on the way our businesses thrive but they most certainly do contribute to the vitality of the town making it a better place to live, work and visit.

The present BID term runs out in September 2020 and it is vital that the businesses respond positively in favour of renewing the mandate when it comes to the Revote, she encouraged levy payers to fill in the questionnaire on the BID website to ensure they had their say in the way that BID develops the business plan for the next term 2020 - 2025